Located just south of Ao Nang Beach, Railay (or Rai Leh) Beach in Krabi is a small peninsula with four beaches. Though the area is on the peninsula, Railay feels like an island because it is unreachable by road because of the high limestone cliffs that cut off access from the mainland and is accessible only by boat.
Here you will find a tropical paradise with tranquillity, gorgeous white sand beaches, aqua blue sea, incredible limestone cliffs and caves. Even if now Railay is quite developed and can be overcrowded, especially in a high season, the beach and scenery are still impressive, making Railay one of the most beautiful areas in Thailand.
Railay is part of Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park. Originally, Railay was a small fishing village.
Attractions in Railay
Railay Beach is accessible only from the sea. There are actually four beaches at Railay - Tonsai, Railay West, Railay East and Ao Phra Nang (Princess Bay). These beaches are situated between towering limestone cliffs making the surrounding so spectacular. It's possible to walk between all four Railay beaches and change the scenery as every beach has its own charm.
East Railay Beach
East Railay Beach looks like a mangrove forest and is muddy. It's not suitable for swimming or sunbathing but offers many climbing spots.
West Railay Beach
West Railay Beach is a white sand beach with crystal-clear water which is surrounded by cliffs. It’s a perfect place for swimming, sunbathing, walking along the beach.
Ao Phra Nang Beach
Ao Phra Nang Beach is a white sand beach with beautiful surroundings, allowing tourists to do various beach activities and offering spectacular sunsets from the beautiful sunset viewpoint.
Ton Sai Beach
Ton Sai Beach is a less known beach of Railay. Ton Sai Beach is located in Ton Sai Bay between Ao Nang and West Railay Beach. The beach is a popular destination for climbing. Ton Sai Beach is not really the best spot for swimming as it is very rocky at low tide.
Princess cave or Tham Phra Nang Nok is located in Ao Phra Nang beach in Railay. There are two about three or four metres deep caves next to each other featuring a large collection of carved wooden phallic symbols. It is believed that these offerings can help with fertility.
Railay is the most famous destination for rock climbing in Southern Thailand. Here you can find good climbing for both beginners and more experienced climbers. Climbing gears can be hired here. The rock climbing at Railay can be done all year. By April every year, there is a "rock climbing" festival taking place in Railay. The areas that are popular for rock climbing are the eastern side of Railay Beach, Ton Sai Beach and Phra Nang Cave.
Where to Stay on Railay Beach
If you are looking for a perfect place to stay on Railay, choose one of 11 Best Hotels in Railay that can make your holidays unforgettable.
Railay is a small peninsula and the number of hotels here is limited. If you have a particular hotel on your mind, book it as much in advance as possible as it's not unusual for the best places to stay in Railay to be completely sold out.
How to get to Railay?
Railay can only be accessed by boat and the most popular way for getting there is by taking a long-tail boat, an authentic wooden sailing boat. Long-tail boats depart from Ao Nang and Krabi Town, making those towns the gateways to Railay Beach.
Krabi Town and Ao Nang can be reached by plane or by bus.
Buses to Krabi
Krabi Bus Terminal is the main bus station of Krabi province and most of the buses and minivans stop there.
There are regular bus services from Bangkok Southern (Sai Tai Mai) Bus Terminal to Krabi. Schedule can be found here - Buses from Bangkok to Krabi. There are buses running to Krabi from Surat Thani (takes more than 3 hours) and from Phuket Airport. There are also minivans going from these cities and they are usually faster.
Flights to Krabi
Krabi International Airport (KBV) is served by a number of domestic (from Bangkok, Koh Samui) and international (from China, Malaysia, Singapore, Qatar, Russia and few other countries seasonally) flights. The airport is about 15 km from Krabi Town.
If you are taking international flight to Krabi and need Visa on Arrival, you can get Thailand Visa on Arrival at Krabi International Airport.
Boats from Ao Nang to Railay
Taking a boat from Ao Nang is the easiest way to reach Railay. You just need to buy a ticket for the boat from the ticket counter which can be found by the beach and take a boat for about 15 minutes. The boats are operating from 8:00 to 18:00 and the fare is 100 baht/person. In the night time, the trip costs 150 baht/person but you might need to charter the boat if not many people will be heading that way. The long-tail boat is able to accommodate 8-10 people. This route is the most popular way for traveling to Railay because it takes less time to get there.
Boats from Krabi Town to Railay
You can take a long-tail boat from Chao Fah Pier in Krabi Town. The journey takes approximately 45 minutes. The fare is 100 baht/person. This route is convenient if you are heading to Railay from Krabi Town. However, traveling by this route is not suitable during the rainy season.
Boats from Ao Nam Mao to Railay
Ao Nam Mao, which is near the 75 million-year-old shell cemetery, can be used for traveling by a long-tail boat to the east side of Railay Beach. This route is ideal for those who are going to Railay during the rainy season.
Weather in Railay
Railay as the rest of Krabi province has only two seasons - the wet and the dry. Weather conditions are at their best in Krabi province from November to March, when a cooling wind keeps the heat at bay and humidity level is low here. From March to May the temperature rises as the cooling wind departs and the humidity rises.
In April monsoonal weather usually arrives, which is expected to last until October. Peak rainfall levels are usually experienced in September and October. Outside of these months, the rain can often come in a short, heavy shower, usually in the afternoon.
Railay has similar weather conditions with other West coast destinations throughout the year as they all experience the impact of the Andaman sea. Temperatures and weather conditions in these locations might differ a bit in short term but in long term it's not notable so you can easily combine a visit to Railay with other nearby destinations like Phuket or other beaches and islands in Krabi province.
For the best time to visit Railay check our West coast of Southern Thailand weather ratings chart.
You are planning to continue your trip up north or to visit islands on the East Coast after visiting Krabi province? Check when is the best time to visit Thailand's other destinations and choose destination with the best possible weather conditions.